The Rundown: Machado Speaks, Manfred Threatens, Opponents Don’t Like Contreras’s Body Language

Random thoughts this morning:

“As a rule, we will not be paying premiums for rentals. We just won’t. It’s hard to build an organization that way.” Theo Epstein said that and I tend to believe he is the most transparent front office executive in sports. A lot writers are trying to find a hidden meaning there but I don’t think one exists. A trade of Machado straight up for Addison Russell would be in Epstein’s wheelhouse. Anything added to that would be the premium. So I think it just depends on what the Orioles want to do because we know what Epstein will do.

What if the Cubs had the opportunity to move Jason Heyward before the deadline? How much of his remaining salary would they have to eat and at what salary would Heyward be palatable for another team? What if they could package the defense-first right fielder into a deal with the Orioles for Machado? It would be complicated, and Epstein would then have to add premium to the deal. It’s really a moot point anyway, since Heyward has a no-trade clause.

Commissioner Rob Manfred is hungry to make baseball more appealing to younger fans, but telling players they can’t create their own identities on the field doesn’t seem particularly helpful to that cause. Case in point, Willson Contreras had been wearing a sleeve that represented Venezuela, his home country. If you have been following the news leading up to yesterday’s elections in Venezuela you may understand his personal statement. Manfred told him to remove the sleeve.

According to Gabe Lacques of USA Today, the league and the MLB Players Association have been in contact since spring training about adding “flexibility” to the league’s uniform policy. It is unclear if these efforts will be accelerated in light of recent player criticism, but it will certainly raise more awareness toward the policies.

In recent weeks, the uniform police have cracked down on Ben Zobrist for his all black-cleats, on Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger for his psychedelic-inspired shoes, and on Royals pitcher Jakob Junis for his barely-noticeable departure from the league-mandated uniform color ratio. Players are given little choice but to comply; Manfred’s staff has threatened that they’ll “be subject to further discipline, including assessment of a fine” if players violate the collectively bargained uniform standards. Seems awfully petty.

Speaking of Contreras and pettiness, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote over the weekend that “opponents often complain about the catcher’s body language, suggesting that he’s just trying to call attention to himself.” Contreras is aware of what is being said, and quietly responded by saying, “I hope I can get to know players on other teams better, and that way, they’ll get to know me better.” Of course, Contreras is no Amir Garrett.

How About That!
Making his first start in the big leagues, 19-year-old Nationals OF Juan Soto smashed the first pitch he saw from Robbie Erlin over the left field wall for a three-run home run. The opposite-field shot was measured at 422 feet.
Cardinals SP Alex Reyes will make his fourth and final rehab start Thursday at Triple-A Memphis. That tentatively lines him up to make his season debut for the Cardinals on May 29 in Milwaukee. Reyes has been hitting triple digits in his stint with Peoria.
Manny Machado clubbed his 15th home run of the season — which ties him for the major league lead — Monday in the Orioles’ defeat of the White Sox. Welcome to Chicago.
Mike Puma of the New York Post has reported that the Mets are “showing interest” in Jose Bautista.
Monday’s Three Stars
  1. Gleyber Torres – In a clash of generations, the 21-year-old Torres and 44-year-old Bartolo Colon squared off on Monday as the Yankees visited the Rangers. Torres won the battle twice, drilling a two-run home run off of Colon in the 2nd inning and a solo shot off of Colon in the 4th. The former Cubs prospect finished with three RBI on the night.
  2. Nick Pivetta – The Phillies’ starter allowed only four hits, walked one and won his third straight start, defeating the first place Braves 3-0. Pivetta finished with seven strikeouts.
  3. Mark Reynolds – The veteran slugger was 3-5 with two home runs and two RBI, leading the nationals to a 10-2 victory over the Padres.
Hot Takes & Syrup
  • One issue that has often been overlooked when discussing “bullpenning” is the inevitable labor issue. Right now, starting pitchers make significantly more money than relief pitchers.
  • After hitting more than 500 home runs in the major leagues, Rafael Palmeiro went deep Monday night for the first time in his return to baseball with an independent team. The ageless slugger connected in the 5th inning for the Cleburne Railroaders, who went on lose 4-3 in 11 innings against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
They Said It
  • “You know what? It is out of my hands. I can’t control that. Just try to go out there and win games and do as much as I can for my ballclub. I don’t get distracted by any of this. All these talks, rumors, at the end of the day, I have to go out there and perform. We are trying to make a push for things and we’re a little behind, but we have to keep pushing forward.” – Manny Machado
  • “We haven’t really talked about any of that. [Albert Almora Jr.] loves the team and he got a ring before I did. That’s about it. As kids growing up, we played together and when we were playing in his backyard growing up we dreamed about playing together someday in the big leagues. Be on the same field and win a World Series together. That is every kid’s dream.” – Manny Machado
  • “He’s a special talent, and he’s really become such an all-around teammate, everything. He’s really reached a level of maturity that has been fun to watch. See him as kind of a puppy years ago, so to speak, believe me he’s on the front porch now with the rest of the big dogs. I know what it looks like on paper and I hope we win the next 20 games and he’s here all year.” – Buck Showalter

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Only Wanna Be With You by Hootie & The Blowfish. The band is back together, and if you haven’t heard their new single, Get Out of My Mind, it’s not bad, though be prepared for a very vintage sound. Check it out on Spotify or Amazon.


Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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  1. Gleyber Torres should be the reminder…signing Machado without an extension, is craziness. I had no qualms trading Torres for a Chapman rental, but fail to see how Machado raises the Cubs ability to get to the WS. I hope Theo stands firm on this one.

    1. Depends on what they give up. With the farm system depleted, Epstein has said that they need to rebuild the org at the lower levels. That could mean dealing more from their MLB depth, which is something they had discussed this past winter as well. The thing about prospects, and it’s very much inherent in the title, is that you don’t know what they’ll become. You can project all you want, but it’s nowhere near a sure thing.

      With MLB players, however, the front office knows even more about them in every aspect, from their performance on the field to their personality and how they handle certain situations. As such, they have a much better idea of who and what that player will be now and in the future. So any deal for Machado or other help is more likely to center around a big leaguer, hence all the Russell talk. Contrary to one of the comments elsewhere, Epstein never said he wouldn’t deal control for a rental. Far from it. He said they can’t pay a prospect premium for such a deal, since they don’t have much there to begin with and a big deal would take a larger number of those players.

      The Cubs may feel that they need another bat to get them over the hump and to lift the low end of those offensive swoons then tend to suffer through far too often. Jed Hoyer spoke about not being happy with the “shape of the offense,” which is something they’d be attempting to correct if they indeed make a splash for a hitter.

      1. To give up Addy for a non-extended Machado alone, is a non-starter for me. The offense will come around. If the Cubs want Manny so bad, sign him in the off season without giving up anyone. I have heard no one say signing Machado is the piece the Cubs need to get to the WS.

        1. I would trade Russell for Machado. I think he is going to get more in arb than he’s worth and the Cubs have a lot of arb guys coming up.

        2. The issue with that is, where does Machado play? He’s either at SS or 3B and he wants to play the latter, so now you’ve got a quandary. Plenty of people have thought that the Cubs need another bat, so saying that he’d make them better is saying that he’s the key, whether they come out and say WS or not. That’s because the Cubs are already contenders, so nothing short of improving to WS contention would be worthwhile in a big move.

          And though they’d never say it until after such a move was made, that’s the only reason Epstoyer would make such a move. So if — and it’s still a big if — they pulled this off, it would be because the Cubs felt that adding Machado at whatever the cost, put them in position to win another title. That’s the only reason they’d make such a move.

  2. Machado would help the Cubs, but Machado playing with Russell and Baez in the infield (with Bryant in the outfield) really helps the Cubs. This means Schwarber would be the odd-man out. That said, Schwarber for a few months of Machado would be an over-pay by the Cubs compared to what other teams would offer for a few months of Machado. However, if the deal included a quality reliever coming the Cubs way (perhaps in a creative three-way deal), I could see the Cubs matching up better.

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